On Monday, Feb. 5, the provincial government announced where and how customers will be able to purchase recreational cannabis.
Just don’t make any plans to buy it in Parksville in the short term.
In a pre-emptive vote during its regular meeting Feb. 5, Parksville city council voted to have staff amend four city bylaws in order to place a freeze on cannabis sales in the city, until it is able to develop “a customized local framework.”
The process would also involve a public consultation to let residents share their views on how the city addresses legal cannabis.
“The province has not made all the announcements, or said 100 per cent what local government’s role will be in regulation and enforcement,” said Keeva Kehler, director of administrative services. “Staff is recommending a ban on all cannabis-related activity in the city until we receive further information.”
In her report to council, Kehler said the city could manage a local prohibition through its business licence bylaw and zoning and development bylaw, as well as its nuisance abatement bylaw and a section of the 2013 Official Community Plan bylaw.
She also shared a sample survey that might be offered to residents, and included information on methods used by the City of Denver, Colo. and municipalities in Oregon to mitigate impacts of cannabis production, distribution and use after it was legalized in those U.S. states.
“Haven’t we had a public consultation?” Coun. Kim Burden asked. “The province did this; do we have any idea what our community response was to that survey?”
Kehler replied that Parksville was one of 140 municipalities represented in the provincial public consultation undertaken in late 2017, but that the B.C. government did not break down the responses by community.
Burden expressed concern that Parksville’s action closely matches the federal timeframe for legalization of recreational cannabis, which is expected to come on July 1. He asked how long it would take the city to complete its public consultation and approve a bylaw.
Kehler responded that four to six weeks would be a reasonable estimate.
“The estimate for the provincial timeframe is May, so that doesn’t give us much time,” Kehler admitted. “Once council has given us direction to create a bylaw it would take four meetings. You would need to give it two readings, then have a public consultation before it goes to third reading.”
Kehler’s report stated the current business licence and zoning bylaws do not have provisions to prohibit or control the sale of legal cannabis within city limits, and that council would have to approve amendments to those bylaws to place a ban on sales until a new bylaw framework is created.
The motion to direct staff to begin work on the bylaws passed unanimously, with Mayor Marc Lefebvre absent. Coun. Kirk Oates served as acting mayor at the meeting.